Nate Trosky and Trent Mongero are joined by Damon Lessler.
Lessler spent three seasons in Bear Territory during a tenure that was highlighted by steady player development and Cal’s first trip to an NCAA Regional since 2015. The Bears punched their ticket as an at-large bid and the No. 2 seed at the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional after finishing fourth in the Pac-12 and carrying a No. 31 RPI ranking at the conclusion of the regular season. Cal’s 2019 success continued into the summer when seven Bears were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, including first-round picks Andrew Vaughn (No. 3 overall, White Sox) and Korey Lee (No. 32 overall, Houston). Vaughn and Lee – both of which went undrafted out of high school – became the first duo in school history to be taken in the first round of the same draft. Vaughn, who was the program’s highest-drafted player ever, was also named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award for the second straight year. Lee became Cal’s second catcher drafted in as many years, a credit to Lessler mentorship.
Lessler additionally guided shortstop Cameron Eden, who batted .365 with a team-leading 73 hits, 20 stolen bases and eight home runs all while making a position change midseason to center field during his junior season. Eden went on to be a sixth round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2019 MLB Draft.
In 2018, Lessler worked closely with Cal’s catchers as the Bears went 32-22 overall and 16-14 in the Pac-12. Cal catcher Tyrus Greene earned All-Pac-12 honors thanks to a season in which he hit .320. Greene committed just three errors, allowed only four passed balls, and went on to be drafted by the Chicago White Sox.
A Bay Area native who hails from nearby Castro Valley, Calif., Lessler spent time as an assistant coach at San Jose State. He served as the Spartans’ recruiting coordinator while also working with infielders, hitters and coaching third base.
Prior to joining the Spartans, Lessler spent the 2016 season as an assistant coach at Cal Poly and worked in the same role at Southern Mississippi in 2015. In 2013 and 2014, he served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Chico State and helped the Wildcats go a combined 80-33 in two seasons. Working again with infielders, he helped Chico State compile a .977 fielding percentage in 2014, a mark that ranked first in all of Division II baseball that year. Chico State reached the NCAA Division II West Region finals in 2013 and the Division II College World Series in 2014.
- Looking for the right fit, the right player.
- Transitioning from high school to college baseball.
- Understand the transfer portal.
- It’s on the player to take it into their own hands. Coaches will not tell you how to do it.
- You have to want to get your extra work in.
- Understanding time management.
- Understanding what your schedule looks like when you get to “school”.
- Player Development.
- When the players first get to college the first 2 weeks they will not be able to work with the coaches.
- Take some time and lose weight and get in control of your body.
- Gaining mass or losing weight.
- Learning how to play everyday in between high school and college baseball.
- Character, make up… making the right choice.
- Training your body, what you eat, how you sleep.
- Does the player have the right attitude? It is your decision to make the right choice.
- Direction, Vision, goals
- There is work to be done.
- Learn to work without the coaches
- Try to find a buddy to help get your work in.
- Building a culture day one.
- Culture starts from the top and works its way down through the entire team.
- Southern Miss had the best culture.
- Throwing program.
- Work ethic.
- Young freshmen are going to be motivated and eager.
- “Voluntary” but the veterans really set the culture
- Specific Terminology re: hitting philosophy should be communicated and executed before coaches start to work with players